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A Town Like Alice | [Nevil Shute]

A Town Like Alice

Eight hundred women and children begin a 1,200-mile journey on foot across Japanese-occupied Malaya. At journey’s end, only 30 will still be alive. This is the story of one woman, of her ordeal, and of how she was saved by the sacrifice of an Australian soldier. It is a story of rare individual courage in the face of certain death, and hope in the face of despair.
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Publisher's Summary

Eight hundred women and children begin a 1,200-mile journey on foot across Japanese-occupied Malaya. At journey’s end, only 30 will still be alive. This is the story of one woman, of her ordeal, and of how she was saved by the sacrifice of an Australian soldier. It is a story of rare individual courage in the face of certain death, and hope in the face of despair.

©1950 William Morrow & Co, Inc. (P)1990 Recorded Books

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4.5 (261 )
5 star
 (156)
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 (76)
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 (24)
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4.4 (226 )
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 (6)
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Story
4.6 (228 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 01-17-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 01-17-13 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    4674
    ratings
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    848
    811
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    Story
    "Historical Novel"

    800 women are forced to walk 1200 miles by the Japanese in Malaysia/Sumatra and 30 survive the ordeal. The British, Dutch and assorted other women were captured by the Japanese with the fall of Malaya and Dutch Indochina unfortunately because they were civilian, history forgot about their ordeal as POWs. This story, based the first part of the story by featuring a British woman during the marching ordeal and tells her story as a historical novel. The second part of the story tell of what happened to her after the war. The courage she showed to survive and the development of her leadership and negotiation skills in helping others to also survive is a good foundation for what she does after the war. She goes to England and works for 3 years and her great uncle dies and leaves her a trust. She then goes to Malaysia and builds a well to help the villagers that help her during the war and then off to Australia to find a Aussie solder that helped them. She stay in Australia and becomes a business women. The skills learned during the war helps her in Queensland outback. This story provides many lessons for those who want to learn and a great story for those who want entertainment. Neil Hunt did a great job with all the accent narrating this story. You will enjoy this book.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah Chambersburg, PA, United States 03-27-12
    Deborah Chambersburg, PA, United States 03-27-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    92
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    16
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    Story
    "A Story of Courage and Commitment"

    Initially, I was totally captivated by this story of Jean Padgett, a young English woman working in Malaya who became a Japanese prisoner of war. The hardships that the women and children endured during their trek to one nonexistent prison camp after another and the alternating kindness and inhumanity of their captors kept me reading (well, listening; this was an audiobook) at a rapid pace. Under such an unlikely circumstances, one wouldn't expect to fall in love, but we do sense that it is happening to Jean when she means a resourceful Australian named Joe Harmon. But the war intervenes . . .

    The novel opens with the narrator, a solicitor, tracking down Jean to tell her that she has just come into an inheritance, and it is to Noah that Jean tells her story. After hearing all she endured, he could hardly be more surprised when Jean tells him her plans for the money: to return to Malaya.

    I won't spoil the book by telling what happens next, but there are quite a few surprises in store. I have to admit that the last third of the novel--the part that reflects the title--was somewhat less interesting to me. Still, this is one of those books whose title was familiar but about which I knew nothing, and overall, it was worthwhile.

    Very well read by Neil Hunt. He does the accents well and isn't roo heavy-handed in reading the female roles.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John S MA 05-13-14
    John S MA 05-13-14 Member Since 2014

    Avid audible listener for over 10 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    676
    ratings
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    162
    159
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    Story
    "Classic and still entertaining"

    Although this was written in 1950 shortly after WWII, it still a great story. It is really so much a war novel, but a love story. The writing is excellent as well as the narration. It does start a little slow but picks up the pace. It will be enjoyed by both men and women. Another book I found very similar was the Potato Factory which is another great book set in Australia and England.

    I would also recommend this to Teens, especially girls since the major character and heroine is a woman. Jean Paget shows both courage, wisdom, and dedication. English by birth she is captured in Malaysia during WWII as must march hundreds of miles with other women as prisoners of the Japanese Army. This part of the war (malaysia) is often overlooked because it involved the British more than America. It was also a mini series at one time. I remember seeing it on TV a decade or so ago. Another similar book set in the same time period is Empire of the Sun , which is another great read.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 07-09-12
    Susan 07-09-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Classic"
    If you could sum up A Town Like Alice in three words, what would they be?

    I really enjoyed this book and was surprised that it was written long ago. A good book to listen to while children are in the car. Loved the Australian accents but some of the Aussie slang was very repetitive.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kadgee 09-18-11
    Kadgee 09-18-11 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "World War 2 did not know about you / nonfiction"

    The story has stuck with me/taught/informed about a time I did not know about.
    Went out with some friends from Australia - they could not get over that I did not know the book 1951 and I did not feel it dated. Just explains so much about a country and humans.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    christine Blue Springs, MO, United States 01-14-13
    christine Blue Springs, MO, United States 01-14-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Interesting Story"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, I would recommend this audiobook highly. The storyline was interesting and I liked the historical aspect of the book. The narration was excellent.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline Lafayette, CA, United States 08-06-12
    Jacqueline Lafayette, CA, United States 08-06-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    "Loved this!!"
    Where does A Town Like Alice rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 5. I loved everything about this book and presentation!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Town Like Alice?

    When Jean begins to think about making shoes.


    Which character – as performed by Neil Hunt – was your favorite?

    The "Trustee" who narrates the story.


    Any additional comments?

    Neil Hunt did a fabulous job on this. I would listen to this again!!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 11-12-14
    Cariola Chambersburg, PA USA 11-12-14 Member Since 2006

    malfi

    HELPFUL VOTES
    838
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    345
    179
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    288
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    Story
    "Finally Got Around to This One"

    Initially, I was totally captivated by this story of Jean Padgett, a young English woman working in Malaya who became a Japanese prisoner of war. The hardships that the women and children endured during their trek to one nonexistent prison camp after another and the alternating kindness and inhumanity of their captors kept me reading (well, listening; this was an audiobook) at a rapid pace. Under such an unlikely circumstances, one wouldn't expect to fall in love, but we do sense that it is happening to Jean when she means a resourceful Australian named Joe Harmon. But the war intervenes . . .

    The novel opens with the narrator, a solicitor, tracking down Jean to tell her that she has just come into an inheritance, and it is to Noah that Jean tells her story. After hearing all she endured, he could hardly be more surprised when Jean tells him her plans for the money: to return to Malaya.

    I won't spoil the book by telling what happens next, but there are quite a few surprises in store. I have to admit that the last third of the novel--the part that reflects the title--was somewhat less interesting to me. Still, this is one of those books whose title was familiar but about which I knew nothing, and overall, it was worthwhile.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori United States 10-18-13
    Lori United States 10-18-13 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Different then what I expected"

    I really enjoyed this book, I thought the book was going to mostly about a group of English women prisoners marched around Malaya during world war 2, But that is only part of the story. It is about an enterprising young woman who not only survives her ordeal in Malaya but becomes a leader in that situation and then the book goes on to tell about her extraordinary life. It is mostly told through the words of her solicitor who is charged with dolling out her unexpected inheritance.
    The Book takes you to Malaya, London and Australia and is part adventure and part love story. It is beautifully told and I was surprised to find out it was writeen in 1950, I would have never guessed that.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug Columbus, NC, United States 04-16-15
    Doug Columbus, NC, United States 04-16-15 Member Since 2015

    Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "War...survival...romance...happy ending...."

    A really really good book....the reader/listener travels with a small group of Western women who are captured by the Japanese in World War II. The Japanese do not want the women...they do not really want to harm them, but they also do not want to be bothered with putting them in a camp and feeding and taking care of them....so they send the women and children from one place to another, on foot with guards...eventually with only one guard as the women seem to be no threat and the soldiers are needed for fighting. As the women walk here and there, wandering over miles of punishing environment, many die of harsh conditions.

    But the war ends, and....the miserable and deadly walk leads to romance....against the odds, as they say, a miracle of sorts happens...love comes out of misery....and just so you know, the book has a happy ending. It is a good narrative, a satisfying story, and the performance of Neil Hunt as he reads the story and acts out the voices is very satisfying...

    Best of all, to use a cliche which really does apply, there is never a boring moment.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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